Wednesday, November 20, 2013

#036 Raising Daughters

The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. — Anna Quindlen
My wife and I talk a lot about how we want to raise our kids.  Sometimes we disagree, but for the most part, we usually have very similar values and want our children to have the choice to share those values.  Obviously, we are biased about the things we believe in because of our experiences and education, but we try hard to plant seeds of wisdom instead of demanding protocol of action.
With that said, we have spent a lot of these conversations of late talking about how we want our daughter to feel about herself.  We have been very conscientious about when and how often we compliment how pretty she is.  [Neither of us is perfect in this wife much better than me.]  I am her daddy, so I think she is beautiful, but she also hears it a lot from our friends and family members and even total strangers when we are out and about. 
Our thought process is that we don't want her to value herself based on her appearance.  We want her to be proud of who she sees in the mirror, but we don't want others opinion of her appearance to dictate how she feels about herself.  At 4 years old, she is extremely impressionable, but she is also very much her own person with her own sense of style, fashion, and beauty.  It is scary and amazing all at the same time to watch her grow into this person who can now feed herself, dress herself, and perform her own make-up tutorials in the bathtub:)  We will obviously continue to set boundaries and talk about self-respect, self-worth, and valuing her spirit, mind, and soul over her outer beauty.
The idea of raising daughters has been top-of-mind for me as of late for a number of reasons.  First of all, I just came off a 3-year stint as a Women's College Basketball Coach.  I remain close with most of my players from those years, so I am always curious to how they are doing while monitoring their well-being (like a surrogate father) from a distance.  I also continue to work with a group of high school girls at a local school near where we live.  They are a great group of young women, and I am always curious to where their respective gaps are between their personal insecurities and self-worth.  In each of these cases, I am always thinking about how to help my daughter traverse the waters of growing up and being a girl.  I know.  I am way out of my depth here, but my wife is a very solid compass for me when it comes to the development of our daughter and the young women I have the honor of working with.
With that said, today's blog really happened because of a TED presentation I stumbled upon on YouTube last week.  Here's the preface of the talk:
Cameron Russell admits she won “a genetic lottery”: she's tall, pretty and an underwear model. But don't judge her by her looks. In this fearless talk, she takes a wry look at the industry that had her looking highly seductive at barely 16-years-old. (Filmed at TEDxMidAtlantic.)
I have been watching a lot of these TED talks as of late, and I find them enlightening on a very broad spectrum including sports, science, politics, and yes, modeling.  This particular presentation was one I was most glad I watched because it helped define my philosophies on how I want to raise my daughter, as well as opening my eyes to the obstacles my wife and I are sure to face as she gets older.  Here's the link to Miss Russell's speech:
After watching the talk, I tweeted this out to my followers.  I hope you feel the same after watching it.
Every young woman should watch! Every man who cares for a young woman should as well!
Matt Rogers
Twitter:  @madcoachdiary


Saturday, November 16, 2013

#035 What Drives Winning?

My schedule continues to get more busy, but I wanted to keep talking about basketball, coaching, and building stronger relationships each week.

I am lucky enough to have good friends in coaching who never let me stop thinking about being better.  Coach Todd Wallace sent me the below link this week about the characteristics of winning.  It is a speech given by Brett Leadbetter, the owner and lead trainer for the Leadbetter Academy; one of the top basketball training facilities in the world.

Brett interviewed a couple dozen of the greatest college basketball coaches on the planet and asked them about goal setting, the qualities that make a great player, and the characteristics they look for in players.

I think you may be shocked with some of the provocative answers he received, but I think they will all be enlightening.  Enjoy!

Matt Rogers
Twitter:  @madcoachdiary

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

#034 The Entitled Generation

“Everything can be taken from man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstance, to choose one’s own way.”
--Viktor Frankl in Man’s Search For Meaning

Is anyone over the age of 30 as sick of that new moniker as I am?  The Entitled Generation.  I read a lot.  I read a lot of magazines, books, websites, and blogs and so on.  Sometimes I think I read too much. You really cannot go ten feet anymore without someone complaining about the entitled group of young people who have overtaken the world of education.  It seems that many have just thrown their hands up in defeat because the idea of entitlement is so over-powering.
I prefer to look at this perception from another angle.  I talk to a lot of kids and a lot of families every day.  I hear about their hopes, dreams, obstacles, frustrations, etc.  I don't hear what can you do for me? as much as I hear what do you care?  In reality, I think the parents are a helluva lot more entitled than their children.
The generation that I am witnessing isn't as focused on why others aren't giving them more as much they are focused on what to do now that they have given up on the hopes of anyone ever being honest and genuine with them.
The 12-17 year olds are the brightest and most confounding group of people on the planet right now.  Most are 100 miles ahead of their parents in regard to technology, information collection, and creativity.  It is not so much that they are entitled as it is they are bored.  It is really hard to challenge someone who is always 10 steps ahead of you.  It is tough to discipline someone with conviction when they don't do something exactly the way you did or want them to do it.  How do you get mad at a kid who figured out how to solve a problem more efficiently and effectively than you ever hoped you could?  So, when a parent or educator or coach asks them about their hopes and dreams or even their fears and concerns, the look on their face and the tone of their voice often sounds and looks like What do you care?  Are you honestly going to listen to what I have to say and respect how I truly feel?
So how do we deal with the Smart As Hell and Bored to Death Generation?  LISTEN!!!  Truly listen without judgment, contempt, and doubt.  I know how hard that it me, but, a 20 minute conversation where you allow them to fill the golden silence with their thoughts will pay mountains of dividends toward the relationship you are trying to build.
I can hear all of you coaches.  I know these kids are quiet, immature, introverted, and seemingly over-confident all at the same time.  Sometimes you just want to shake the nothingness out of their eyes.  The problem is that the perceived nothingness we see is a deep-seeded fear of the power of all of that knowledge they have received at such a young age.
Sex, crime, corruption, war, poverty, death, the devastation of the planet...they have gotten their eyes on these major adult issues well before any of us born before 1980 ever did.  On top of that, technology has given them the ability to never have to face any of their concerns or fears head on.  We can tweet it, email it, blog it, facebook it, and then hide behind the computer after we state it with utmost confidence.  These young people end up asking the questions and having the conversations with each other that they should be having with us.  The problem with all of that information on the interweb is that 90% of it is pure opinionated bullshit...see Diary of a Mad Coach ;).
Kids don't go to the library and open up an encyclopedia to get their information anymore.  They Google it and usually end up at Wikipedia for their answers to their most intimate problems and questions.
As I type this, I know how impossibly hard it is to do, but I hope you will try.  Sit down with your players, children, students and try and ask at least one genuine open-ended question each day.  Something like:
How does the thought of losing affect your preparation?
When you play poorly and the team wins, why is it hard to be excited?
If you could make what we are trying to do as a team easier, what would you advise and why?
The coach who takes the time to allow silence after those questions while encouraging those young people to speak their minds with conviction in front of their peers will end up being a hero to those young people.  They want so badly to have a real voice and a real conversation.  As much as they love to tweet and instagram each other, there is nothing more invigorating than speaking with conviction in front of those they respect.
What is the result?  Well, it may not come in the timely manner you hope, but what you are building in each of them is something no one will ever take away from unbreakable self-worth!
Matt Rogers
Twitter:  @madcoachdiary

Monday, November 4, 2013

#033 Being a Pro's Pro

In the past two weeks, I had the great pleasure of sitting down and talking with Coach Bob Chmeil.  If you don't know that name, it's okay.  He's not a household name.  However, you have probably heard the names of the three Head Coaches he served under as Assistant Coach and Head Recruiting Coordinator:  Lee Corso (Northwestern), Bo Schembechler (Michigan), and Lou Holtz (Notre Dame).  I am not the type of person who is easily impressed by someone's credentials alone, but how many people do you know who have recruited and coached TWO Heisman Trophy Winners and helped lead multiple teams to National Championships?  Yes, Bob Chmeil is pretty famous in the NCAA Division I football community.  He's darn good at what he does, and I learned a lifetime of information from him in a very short amount of time.

Bob is a new colleague of mine in my new role as Head National Scout for NCSA Athletic Recruiting.  Bob is one our national speakers who travels throughout the country motivating young men and women to reach for their potential in order to make their dreams of playing sports at the collegiate level come true.  In my job, I am doing the same thing but with individual families who reach out to us for help and support.

I could write a half dozen blogs about the lessons I learned from Bob and the stories he shared with me, but I am going to focus today on the three elements Bob shared about what every young person needs to truly reach their potential while becoming a great teammate along the way.  They are the key elements to what I call being a Pro's Pro:

1.  Attitude
2.  Loyalty
3.  Enthusiasm

When you simply read those words without putting much thought into them, the list does not sound like an earth-shattering revelation.  You might even be saying "Well, duh Coach, of course those three elements are important!"  I'd feel the same way if I just read them.

Fortunately for me and my new colleagues, Coach Chmeil, is a natural motivator.  When he told us those three words, he did so in the context of what a wonderful gift we've been given to be able to change the course of a young person's life.  In my role as Head Scout, I can just as easily positively affect a 17-year old for the rest of their life as I could make them give up on their dreams in the course of one conversation.  Attitude, Loyalty, and Enthusiasm are not just words a coach uses as props.  They are the characteristic differences between doing a job and changing a life.  Quite a significant difference...I think.

One of my former players just recently signed a contract to play professionally in Portugal.  He's been there about a little over a month, and he recently mentioned some struggles he's having in one his emails to me.  I could tell by his words that he was having trouble walking the fine-line that American players often have to walk when going to a new country to play.  He likes his teammates and coach very much, but he doesn't always understand why decisions are made on the floor during games.  He's not the most confrontational person in the world, so he often will stay quiet before speaking up and maybe addressing a concern directly.

I had just met with Coach Chmeil before reading his e-mail, so I took advantage of my new knowledge by writing an e-mail back with this question: 

On a scale of 1-10, how would you evaluate your relationship so far with your club, coaches, and teammates from your perspective in these three categories:
1.  Attitude
2.  Loyalty
3.  Enthusiasm

What I really wanted to find out was if he thought about how much he had demonstrated to his new family that he wanted to be there.  When we got a chance to talk on Facetime a few days later, and I reminded him of that question, I could tell that he had put some genuine thought into the answer.  He wanted to say that he was a 10 in each of those efforts, but he knew the truth was far from a 10.  He's one of the kindest and most generous kids I have ever been around, so the idea that we always personally have more to give to those around us was a good reminder to how he could do more to overcome the challenges he was facing.

As I could look back at my former and present jobs and relationships, I know that most of any frustrations about others I had often stemmed to my lack of genuinely expressing and acting with loyalty, a positive attitude, and enthusiasm.

So, the next time you are having a frustrating day, take a second and rate your loyalty, attitude, and enthusiasm before you judge someone else.  I think you may find that your next course of action will be greatly changed in a good way.

Matt Rogers
Twitter:  @madcoachdiary